How Food Affects Your Moods
Can your diet help put you in a good mood (or a bad one)?
While certain diets or foods may not ease depression (or put you instantly in a better mood), they may help as part of an overall treatment plan. There’s more and more research indicating that, in some ways, diet may influence mood. Science doesn’t have the whole story yet, but there are some interesting clues.Basically the science of food’s affect on mood is based on this: Dietary changes can bring about changes in our brain structure (chemically and physiologically), which can lead to altered behavior.
So how should you change your diet if you want to try to improve your mood? Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Eating too much sugar may make you depressed. One large study on subjects from six different countries found that eating a lot of sugar and feeling depressed were closely related. This may be from chronically elevated insulin — the body’s continuous attempt to clear the constant onslaught of sugar from the bloodstream may cause mood crashes.
- Having enough omega-3 fatty acids seems to put us in better moods. Include more nuts, fish, and seafood (like salmon, sardines, mackerel, crab and oysters) in your diet to get these happy healthy fats. (Bonus! Oysters are a great source of zinc too.)
- Consuming too much vegetable oil, hydrogenated fats and trans fats may worsen our moods. These omega-6 fats make it hard for our body’s to process omega-3 fatty acids. Low levels of omega-3s are linked to symptoms of depression, being crabbier, and even being more impulsive. (Which can mean poor food choices — a vicious cycle.) Omega-6s may also increase inflammation, which can affect our brains. Many neurodegenerative disorders and mental health issues are linked to brain inflammation.
- Eating lean proteins including chicken, turkey, and fish increases your consumption of tryptophan. Tryptophan is a building block of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps us feel relaxed and happy.